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A blog about books and other things speculative

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Interview with Keren Landsman, author of The Heart of the Circle


Please welcome Keren Landsman to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Heart of the Circle was published on August 13, 2019 by Angry Robot.



Interview with Keren Landsman, author of The Heart of the Circle




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Keren:  I've been writing since I learned how, but I think my first try at writing something that I meant to publish was a trilogy about a 16 years old girl (guess how old I was then...?) whose brain was transplanted into a robot's body, and was sent back in time to fight criminals. It was awesome, and I had planned to do a trilogy, but sadly quit after 20 pages... I still love that story since it was the first time I tried writing "for real".



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Keren:  I think everyone is a hybrid of sorts. I'm mostly a discovery writer, and I almost always start writing with just a sense of the main character and the world it lives in. It causes me to get stuck a lot of times, and I throw away tons of pixels, but it's the price you pay when you don't plan.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Keren:  The writing itself! I love it when it's easy, but usually finding the correct phrase or the perfect word can take hours and even days. Putting the words, one after the other, is agonising for me. I hate editing too. The story is done, the pain is over, but then I have to dig into it again and correct everything I missed. I prefer the planning (which I rarely do) and the talking about how awesome the story is going to be (before I actually write it).



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Keren:  The world. My family. Great books and short stories that I had the immense pleasure to read. Terrible books and short stories that taught me how not to write. Talking with writers. Talking with non writers. Working as a physician in a free STD clinic. Working as an epidemiologist in the ministry of health. Talking online with vaccine-hesitant parents. Reading the news. Talking to people with different life experience than mine. But mostly, editing. I was extremely lucky to work with great editors throughout the years who helped me to shape my writing and taught me how to better utilise my tools.



TQDescribe The Heart of the Circle using only 5 words.

Keren:

Out. For. A. Circle.
Bitch.
(An edited Buffy quote)



TQTell us something about The Heart of the Circle that is not found in the book description.

Keren:  It originally started as a short story. I aimed for a 15000 word story about am equal rights movement and magic. But the characters were so much fun, and I just couldn't stop wondering what will happen next, that I just continued writing.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Heart of the Circle? What appeals to you about writing Contemporary / Urban Fantasy?

Keren:  I love urban fantasy and have done ever since I first read Narnia. The idea that magic can exist so close to me, and that I just need the find the right key to unlock it, is astounding. The reason The Heart of the Circle is set in Tel Aviv is because I wanted magic near me. I wanted my world, my everyday life in a book, and I wanted a sweet, funny, light story to be set in that location. Well, I got 50% of my plan. That's better than most writing plans I have!



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Heart of the Circle?

Keren:  Aside from the obvious - talking with psychologists to better understand empathy and psychopathy in real world, police officers to make sure the police work sections would be reliable, a few historians to find how to place alternative history in a real Israel, digging for hours in Reddit/drugs to better describe some of Reed's experiences, and loads of motorcycle forums and articles for the shortest description in the world regarding the bike mentioned ("Green"). My favorite two researches were talking for hours with my dad, who is a firearms specialist, to describe the gun that is used in one scene.



TQ:   Please tell us about the cover for The Heart of the Circle?

Keren:  There are two covers - the Israeli one was designed by Imri Zertal and it shows a circle of women. It is a very calm cover which emphasizes the community sense of the book. The English cover was designed by Francesca Corsini, and it shows a graffiti-like resistance poster, which is inspired by the underground feeling in it. I love how two people saw two completely different interpretations to the same book. It's amazing.



TQIn The Heart of the Circle who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Keren:  The easiest were Reed's parents. Since they are very similar to my own, I just used my love for my parents and mixed it with all the little fights, the pettiness and the resentment that arises in many child-parent relationships. The hardest to write was Oleander. In the original draft he was a minor character, a woman, and was mainly for comic relief. Only in later rewrites did he switch sex, gender, earned a bigger role, and started influencing major parts of the plot. It was hard writing him since he is one of the characters farthest away from my and my experiences.



TQDoes The Heart of the Circle touch on any social issues?

Keren:  Yes and no. There are a few social issues that are dealt with in the book. I tried to touch on human rights, LGBTQ rights, marginalized population, and the importance of different support systems. However, I don't define those as "issues" necessarily. I believe they should be a part of everyday life. I think people should treat everyone with respect and support, without discrimination.



TQWhich question about The Heart of the Circle do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Keren:  I would love to be asked how essential the fantastic element is to the story.
I think it is. I couldn't have told the same story the way I wanted it without Reed's empathy, Daphne's visions etc. Even though a lot of things are similar between our world and theirs, which sometimes might cause the illusion that the fantastic element is not needed, I couldn't have made the story work without magic. And fire bolts.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Heart of the Circle.

Keren:

“How did I feel when I found out Reed was an empath? I felt like a six-year old who made his baby brother want to disappear.”



TQWhat's next?

Keren:  I'm currently working on a few short stories with long-overdue deadlines. After I'm done with those, my eldest reminded me that I promised him and his sister to write a book with them as heroes in a post apocalyptic world, and now I MUST write that. After that... we'll see.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Keren:  Thank you for having me :)





The Heart of the Circle
Angry Robot, August 13, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with Keren Landsman, author of The Heart of the Circle
Sorcerers fight for the right to exist and fall in love, in this extraordinary alternate world fantasy thriller by award-winning Israeli author Keren Landsman.

Throughout human history there have always been sorcerers, once idolised and now exploited for their powers. In Israel, the Sons of Simeon, a group of religious extremists, persecute sorcerers while the government turns a blind eye. After a march for equal rights ends in brutal murder, empath, moodifier and reluctant waiter Reed becomes the next target. While his sorcerous and normie friends seek out his future killers, Reed complicates everything by falling hopelessly in love. As the battle for survival grows ever more personal, can Reed protect himself and his friends as the Sons of Simeon close in around them?

File Under: Fantasy [ Love Squared | Stuck in the Margins | Emotional Injection | Fight the Power ]





About Keren

Interview with Keren Landsman, author of The Heart of the Circle
KEREN LANDSMAN is a mother, a writer, a medical doctor who specializes in Epidemiology and Public health, and a blogger. She is one of the founders of Mida’at, an NGO dedicated to promoting public health in Israel. She works in the Levinski clinic in Tel Aviv. She has won the Geffen Award three times, most recently for the short story collection Broken Skies.









Website  ~  Twitter @smallweed

Interview with Eugen Bacon, author of Claiming T-Mo


Please welcome Eugen Bacon to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Claiming T-Mo is published on August 13, 2019 by Meerkat Press.



Interview with Eugen Bacon, author of Claiming T-Mo




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Eugen:  Aha, let’s talk about English composition, as in elementary school subject… I was the teacher’s nightmare, or bliss. Such vivid imagination from what an early age—one couldn’t tell where reality closed, and fiction opened.

But my first published piece was ‘Morning Dew’, and I have a certificate from the Writers Bureau to show for it! I later republished the short story as ‘The Writer’—it is a cathartic piece that is also autoethnographic, fictionalised. It was also my first earnings as a writer.

Interview with Eugen Bacon, author of Claiming T-Mo



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Eugen:  So pantser. When I write short stories, my writing is a search, a journey, a coming through… I often start with a skeleton, a general idea, and the writing shapes itself. Characters tell their story and the story’s ending astonishes me.

But the hybrid birthed itself with Claiming T-Mo and other longer works—I had to find structure for the outcomes I sought, for example in my book Writing Speculative Fiction (2019) by Macmillan International.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing? How does your background in computer science affect (or not) your fiction writing?

Eugen:  Time—there are never enough hours in a day, this is my biggest writing challenge. But I’ve learnt to steal hours, to write under pressure. I’d likely be taken aback, utterly stupefied by time if I had plenty of it to borrow!

My background in computer science complements my writing. I’d like to think the scientist in me is learning passion, aesthetics, vision and creativity from the artist. And the artist in me is learning structure, curiosity, attention to detail and organised scepticism from the scientist.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Eugen:  Toni Morrison. Ray Bradbury. Michael Ondaatje. Peter Temple. Authors as mentors who seduce me, magnetise me in the boldness of their writing that pays attention to mood, prose, characterisation—writing that listens to the playfulness of language.



TQDescribe Claiming T-Mo using only 5 words.

Eugen:  Him, her: mother, wife, daughter.



TQTell us something about Claiming T-Mo that is not found in the book description.

Eugen:  The novel was first named Outbreeds to introduce characters within the context of ‘being different’, a breed of others with an anti-hero. It nearly became A Puzzle-Piece Woman.



TQWhat inspired you to write Claiming T-Mo?

Eugen:  It was the creative artefact of my PhD in writing, where I approached the study with two research questions linked to ‘writing different’:
Can a writer of short fiction productively apply a model of stories-within-a-story to build a novel; and if so, what techniques or experiences are transferable from one form to the other?

Does literary writing contribute to the quality of works in science fiction, fantasy or speculative fiction?
In Claiming T-Mo I created purposeful adaptations, embedded vignettes layered, and amounting to a cohesive novel that is almost like a story circle. It flows smoothly from one point to another, each story part bearing a concealed self-sufficiency interlinked and layered into a composite. And I bet you won’t notice.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Claiming T-Mo?

Eugen:  I paid attention to speculative fiction comprised of embedded stories carefully placed within the novel, stories continued rather than expanded. I wrote story by story, creating in a discipline already familiar, while layering the novel with characters, timelines, motifs and interplay—a sum of the parts.

I researched story cycles—how texts are held together by arrangement, thematic ties or a collective protagonist (for example Silhouette). I borrowed from the concept of the ‘rhizome’ that philosopher Gilles Deleuze and his collaborator psychoanalyst Felix Guattari produced in A Thousand Plateaus (1987)—where a rhizome ‘has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo’. I also found fascination in art as language—playfulness in the language of writing.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Claiming T-Mo.

Eugen:  Remember Him, her: mother, wife, daughter? There, no spoilers. Micaela Dawn (@DawnMicaela on Twitter) is phenomenal in her illustration and conceptual art. And Meerkat Press is simply awesome! What a mesmeric cover from my simplistic idea: An ancient world picturing three women and a man. Staring at the horizon.



TQIn Claiming T-Mo who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Eugen:  Silhouette was a breeze—her psycho-spiritual journey to find healing from deep wounding in the hands of significant males in her life. She remains the character who haunts other characters across the story, the omniscient narrator from whose eyes we see.

Odysseus was a tough nut to crack. Read the novel, you’ll see why.



TQDoes Claiming T-Mo touch on any social issues?

EugenClaiming T-Mo addresses themes around the challenges and possibilities of being different, a scrutiny of embodiment, the nature of being, the ‘self’ and ‘other’ and dichotomy.



TQWhich question about Claiming T-Mo do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Eugen:  
Q. Is there a sequel?

A. No. (I think the story is complete within itself.)

Q. How do you pronounce Myra?

A. My (as in ‘my name is…) Rah (as in ‘ra-ra-rasputin’)


TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Claiming T-Mo.

Eugen:  
T-Mo happened exactly one week after the puzzle-piece woman with fifty-cent eyes. —in Salem’s story

It started with a name. And ended in a swim. —in Myra’s story


TQWhat's next?

Eugen:  A few works in the pipeline, including:
  • a collection of short speculative fiction by Meerkat Press (2020)
  • a literary dark fantasy that is also a mystery / adventure, set in Australia
  • a speculative prose poetry collaboration with an amazing award-winning poet and translator, A/Prof. Dominique Hecq, who was also my PhD supervisor.


TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





Claiming T-Mo
Meerkat Press, August 13, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 260 pages

Interview with Eugen Bacon, author of Claiming T-Mo
In this lush interplanetary tale, Novic is an immortal Sayneth priest who flouts the conventions of a matriarchal society by choosing a name for his child. This act initiates chaos that splits the boy in two, unleashing a Jekyll-and-Hyde child upon the universe. Named T-Mo by his mother and Odysseus by his father, the story spans the boy’s lifetime — from his early years with his mother Silhouette on planet Grovea to his travels to Earth where he meets and marries Salem, and together they bear a hybrid named Myra. The story unfolds through the eyes of these three distinctive women: Silhouette, Salem and Myra. As they confront their fears and navigate the treacherous paths to love and accept T-Mo/Odysseus and themselves, the darkness in Odysseus urges them to unbearable choices that threaten their very existence.





About Eugen

Interview with Eugen Bacon, author of Claiming T-Mo
Eugen Bacon is a computer scientist mentally re-engineered into creative writing. She has published over 100 short stories and articles, together with anthologies. Her stories have won, been shortlisted and commended in international awards, including the Bridport Prize, L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest, Copyright Agency Prize and Fellowship of Australian Writers National Literary Awards. Her creative work has appeared in literary and speculative fiction publications worldwide, including Award Winning Australian Writing, AntipodeanSF, Andromeda, Aurealis, Bards and Sages Quarterly, and through Routledge in New Writing. Creative nonfiction book – Palgrave MacMillan (2019)


Website  ~  Twitter @EugenBacon

Interview with Kira Jane Buxton, author of Hollow Kingdom


Please welcome Kira Jane Buxton to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Hollow Kingdom is published on August 6, 2019 by Grand Central Publishing.



Interview with Kira Jane Buxton, author of Hollow Kingdom




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Kira:  Thank you so much for having me! As a child, the very first short story I ever wrote was about an overweight dragon. I may have peaked too soon.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Kira:  I’m definitely a hybrid of the two—a plotser or a panter maybe. I tend to try to adhere to a basic plot outline, but then veer off to uncharted territory and follow characters I didn’t give permission to take over the page. One of the main characters from Hollow Kingdom—Big Jim—was actually supposed to be a little boy, but he just burst onto the first page in all his gutsy glory and there wasn’t much I could do about it. Writers only think they’re in charge of a story.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Kira:  It’s usually being patient enough to hone in on the idea before starting to write. I also tend to get in my own way. When I relax and have fun with it all, I tend to do my best writing. The other most challenging thing about writing is stopping. I live to write, but am starting to become a bit comma shaped. Thankfully, Ewok (my dog, a Brussels griffon) reminds me to get up and go for regular walks.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Kira:  I love to spend time outside each day. Here in Seattle, we’re so fortunate to live amongst some very beautiful trees—fir, cedar, pine, birch, alder. Trees, like books, change brain chemistry, and I feel it’s a privilege to be near them. I have befriended two wild crows who visit me every day, and also spend time with a feisty charm of hummingbirds. Time in nature or reading about nature tends to spark that creative light for me.



TQDescribe Hollow Kingdom using only 5 words.

Kira:  Crude crow must save world



TQTell us something about Hollow Kingdom that is not found in the book description.

Kira:  The main narrator is a crow named Shit Turd (S.T. the crowtagonist), so we have his bird’s eye view of what’s happening to humanity, but there are also interstitial chapters from various animals around the world. I wanted to explore the minds of animals, but also to have a global view of what the apocalypse might look like. I grew up in Asia and the Middle East, so my wanting to explore more of the world in my writing was probably inevitable.



TQWhat inspired you to write Hollow Kingdom?

Kira:  I adore crows and had wanted to write about them for a long time without knowing how. I was driving when I finally got the idea. “What if a crow is telling the story of what happened to our species? What if a crow is talking about our extinction?” I’ve always loved animals, humor, and been an advocate for conservation, so I’d say Hollow Kingdom is the conflation of my passions.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Hollow Kingdom?

Kira:  I loved researching animal and tree facts for Hollow Kingdom. I read so many delicious non-fiction books about the natural world, from Peter Wohlleben’s The Secret Live of Trees, to Sy Montgomery’s The Soul of An Octopus, David George Haskell’s The Songs of Trees, The Wisdom of Wolves by Jamie and Jim Dutcher, Jennifer Ackerman’s The Genius of Birds, the list goes on. What I found that anything I fabricated or embellished wasn’t half as fascinating and exciting as what’s happening all around us in nature.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Hollow Kingdom.

Kira:  Jarrod Taylor did the gorgeous cover art for Hollow Kingdom. He absolutely nailed it. The periphery of the jacket has a nod to the Himalayan blackberry takeover, and the Seattle skyline features prominently underneath S.T. the crow. One of my favorite things is the purple markings on S.T. that represent rain falling down onto the Space Needle and the skyline. Dennis the bloodhound is on the spine of the novel, which is perfect. Also, I am utterly obsessed with cephalopods, and on the back of the jacket is the most beautiful rendering of one. It would make a beautiful tattoo.



TQIn Hollow Kingdom who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Kira:  One of the easiest characters to write was S.T., the crow. Perhaps because it took me so long to figure out what shape this book would take, and perhaps because I spend a lot of time with crows and get to enjoy their varied personalities and many antics. My female crow friend inspired a lot of S.T.’s behavior and character. The hardest was trying to write from the perspective of a hummingbird. I sat for ages trying to “hear” a voice, which ended up being a Highland cow (again, I’m not in control very often).



TQDoes Hollow Kingdom touch on any social issues?

Kira:  At its heart, Hollow Kingdom is an environmental parable and my love letter to the natural world. My hope is that readers remember to look up and enjoy the sky and listen to what the birds are saying. To notice that everything around us is communicating. I know there have been periods of my life where I’ve been so busy, I’ve forgotten to engage with nature, and I don’t want that to happen again. I hope that as a species, we can reconnect with the natural world and remember that we share our home with many incredible creatures.



TQWhich question about Hollow Kingdom do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Kira:  Oooh! I love this! “Are the animals based on the real personalities of animals you know?” Many of them are. Genghis Cat is based upon one of my own cats. Others are based on animals I’ve had encounters with either at my first job (I was a volunteer at a zoo as a child when I lived in Indonesia) or at some point in my life. To quote a line from the book, “Life isn’t the same once you know just how deeply a tree feels.” I think that applies to close encounters with all living things. My life has been touched and changed for the better by the wonderful creatures I’ve met.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Hollow Kingdom.

Kira:

“The trees hum and sing to one another, breathing love and story. They cannot run.”


“You can fuck off now. I have nothing more to say to you.” (Genghis Cat speaking the language of felines everywhere)



TQWhat's next?

Kira:  I think our vociferous little crow still has more to say! I love exploring the minds of animals, so I hope I get to stay in this world a little longer.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Kira:  Thank you so much for having me and for these wonderfully refreshing questions!





Hollow Kingdom
Grand Central Publishing, August 6, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

Interview with Kira Jane Buxton, author of Hollow Kingdom
One pet crow fights to save humanity from an apocalypse in this uniquely hilarious debut from a genre-bending literary author.

S.T., a domesticated crow, is a bird of simple pleasures: hanging out with his owner Big Jim, trading insults with Seattle’s wild crows (those idiots), and enjoying the finest food humankind has to offer: Cheetos ®.

Then Big Jim’s eyeball falls out of his head, and S.T. starts to feel like something isn’t quite right. His most tried-and-true remedies–from beak-delivered beer to the slobbering affection of Big Jim’s loyal but dim-witted dog, Dennis–fail to cure Big Jim’s debilitating malady. S.T. is left with no choice but to abandon his old life and venture out into a wild and frightening new world with his trusty steed Dennis, where he discovers that the neighbors are devouring each other and the local wildlife is abuzz with rumors of dangerous new predators roaming Seattle. Humanity’s extinction has seemingly arrived, and the only one determined to save it is a foul-mouthed crow whose knowledge of the world around him comes from his TV-watching education.

Hollow Kingdom is a humorous, big-hearted, and boundlessly beautiful romp through the apocalypse and the world that comes after, where even a cowardly crow can become a hero.





About Kira

Interview with Kira Jane Buxton, author of Hollow Kingdom
Kira Jane Buxton’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, NewYorker.com, McSweeney’s, The Rumpus, Huffington Post, and more. She calls the tropical utopia of Seattle, Washington, home and spends her time with three cats, a dog, two crows, a charm of hummingbirds, and a husband.

Website  ~  Twitter @KiraJaneWrites  ~  Facebook

2019 Debut Author Challenge - August Debuts



2019 Debut Author Challenge - August Debuts


There are 9 debut novels for August.

Please note that we use the publisher's publication date in the United States, not copyright dates or non-US publication dates.

The August debut authors and their novels are listed in alphabetical order by author (not book title or publication date). Take a good look at the covers. Voting for your favorite August cover for the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on August 15, 2019.



Eugen Bacon

Claiming T-Mo
Meerkat Press, August 13, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 260 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - August Debuts
In this lush interplanetary tale, Novic is an immortal Sayneth priest who flouts the conventions of a matriarchal society by choosing a name for his child. This act initiates chaos that splits the boy in two, unleashing a Jekyll-and-Hyde child upon the universe. Named T-Mo by his mother and Odysseus by his father, the story spans the boy’s lifetime — from his early years with his mother Silhouette on planet Grovea to his travels to Earth where he meets and marries Salem, and together they bear a hybrid named Myra. The story unfolds through the eyes of these three distinctive women: Silhouette, Salem and Myra. As they confront their fears and navigate the treacherous paths to love and accept T-Mo/Odysseus and themselves, the darkness in Odysseus urges them to unbearable choices that threaten their very existence.





Troy Carrol Bucher

Lies of Descent
Fallen God's War 1
DAW, August 20, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 432 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - August Debuts
In this compelling fantasy from a debut author, two young people must unite two warring cultures to banish the gods who destroyed their homeland.

The Fallen Gods’ War drove the remnants of a victorious army across the ocean in search of a new homeland. A thousand years later, the lifeless continent of Draegora is largely forgotten, a symbol for the regiments that remain. Demons to some. Protectors to others. The power of their god-touched blades has forged a nation, though many resent their absolute control.

Riam and Nola are unknowing descendants of the old world. When it’s discovered they carry enough Draegoran blood to serve in the regiments, they are dragged away from their families to begin training. If they survive, they will be expected to enforce the laws of the covenant, to fight the Esharii tribesmen who raid along the border, and to be judge, jury, and executioners for those accused of crimes.

For Riam, who welcomes his escape from an abusive father, the power to protect those who cannot defend themselves is alluring. For Nola, who wishes to return home, it is a betrayal by all she holds dear.

Neither is given a choice…and neither may ever get the chance to serve.

Lies of Descent begins an epic trilogy of fallen gods, betrayal, and magic—where dark motives often dwell within the true and just, and where the things most feared sometimes lead to salvation.





Kira Jane Buxton

Hollow Kingdom
Grand Central Publishing, August 6, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - August Debuts
One pet crow fights to save humanity from an apocalypse in this uniquely hilarious debut from a genre-bending literary author.

S.T., a domesticated crow, is a bird of simple pleasures: hanging out with his owner Big Jim, trading insults with Seattle’s wild crows (those idiots), and enjoying the finest food humankind has to offer: Cheetos ®.

Then Big Jim’s eyeball falls out of his head, and S.T. starts to feel like something isn’t quite right. His most tried-and-true remedies–from beak-delivered beer to the slobbering affection of Big Jim’s loyal but dim-witted dog, Dennis–fail to cure Big Jim’s debilitating malady. S.T. is left with no choice but to abandon his old life and venture out into a wild and frightening new world with his trusty steed Dennis, where he discovers that the neighbors are devouring each other and the local wildlife is abuzz with rumors of dangerous new predators roaming Seattle. Humanity’s extinction has seemingly arrived, and the only one determined to save it is a foul-mouthed crow whose knowledge of the world around him comes from his TV-watching education.

Hollow Kingdom is a humorous, big-hearted, and boundlessly beautiful romp through the apocalypse and the world that comes after, where even a cowardly crow can become a hero.





Sarah Davis-Goff

Last Ones Left Alive
Flatiron Books, August 27, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 288 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - August Debuts
“Combines the spare poetry of The Road with the dizzying pace of 28 Days Later.Jennie Melamed, author Gather the Daughters

“A riveting novel.” Eowyn Ivey, bestselling author of The Snow Child
Remember your just-in-cases. Beware tall buildings. Always have your knives.

Raised in isolation by her mother and Maeve on a small island off the coast of a post-apocalyptic Ireland, Orpen’s life has revolved around training to fight a threat she’s never seen. More and more she feels the call of the mainland, and the prospect of finding other survivors.

But that is where danger lies, too, in the form of the flesh-eating menace known as the skrake.

Then disaster strikes. Alone, pushing an unconscious Maeve in a wheelbarrow, Orpen decides her last hope is abandoning the safety of the island and journeying across the country to reach the legendary banshees, the rumored all-female fighting force that battles the skrake.

But the skrake are not the only threat…

Sarah Davis-Goff's Last Ones Left Alive is a brilliantly original imagining of a young woman's journey to discover her true identity.





Zach Fehst

American Magic: A Thriller
Atria/Emily Bestler Books/Alloy Entertainment, August 20, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - August Debuts
In this fast-paced, international thriller, chaos erupts after a shadowy figure with ties to an elite and ancient society posts incantations on the dark web that allow people to perform real magic.

When an enigmatic message uploaded to the dark web turns out to contain an ancient secret giving regular people the power to do impossible things, like levitate cars or make themselves invisible, American government officials panic. They know the demo videos on YouTube and instructions for incantations could turn from fantastical amusement to dangerous weapon at the drop of the hat, and they scramble to keep the information out of the wrong hands.

They tap Ben Zolstra, an ex-CIA field operative whose history with the Agency is conflicted at best, to lead the team that’s racing to contain the dangerous knowledge—and track down the mysterious figure behind the leak who threatens that even more dangerous spells will be released one by one until the world as we know it no longer exists.

This sweeping, globe-spanning thriller explores the dark consequences of a question mankind has been asking for centuries: What if magic were real?





Keren Landsman

The Heart of the Circle
Angry Robot, August 13, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - August Debuts
Sorcerers fight for the right to exist and fall in love, in this extraordinary alternate world fantasy thriller by award-winning Israeli author Keren Landsman.

Throughout human history there have always been sorcerers, once idolised and now exploited for their powers. In Israel, the Sons of Simeon, a group of religious extremists, persecute sorcerers while the government turns a blind eye. After a march for equal rights ends in brutal murder, empath, moodifier and reluctant waiter Reed becomes the next target. While his sorcerous and normie friends seek out his future killers, Reed complicates everything by falling hopelessly in love. As the battle for survival grows ever more personal, can Reed protect himself and his friends as the Sons of Simeon close in around them?

File Under: Fantasy [ Love Squared | Stuck in the Margins | Emotional Injection | Fight the Power ]





Brian Naslund

Blood of an Exile
Dragons of Terra 1
Tor Books, August 6, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 416 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - August Debuts
First in the Dragons of Terra series, Brian Naslund's Blood of an Exile is a fast-paced adventure perfect for comic readers and fans of heroic fantasy

Bershad was supposed to die...

When he was caught trying to assassinate a fellow noble, Flawless Bershad was given a death sentence. Fight monsters so that he would die serving the kingdom. But Bershad can’t die.

He’s never lost a fight, the most successful dragon slayer in history but marked as a doomed man, Bershad stands apart from the world. But that is about to change.

The man who sentenced Bershad to his fate has just given him an out. Kill a king and walk free forever. But Bershad could not care less about the fates of kings and kingdoms, until, that is, he discovers he is the only person able to save an innocent child and, possibly, the life of every creature in Terra.





Temi Oh

Do You Dream of Terra-Two?
Gallery / Saga Press, August 13, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook,544 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - August Debuts
When an Earth-like planet is discovered, a team of six teens, along with three veteran astronauts, embark on a twenty-year trip to set up a planet for human colonization—but find that space is more deadly than they ever could have imagined.

Have you ever hoped you could leave everything behind?
Have you ever dreamt of a better world?
Can a dream sustain a lifetime?


A century ago, an astronomer discovered an Earth-like planet orbiting a nearby star. She predicted that one day humans would travel there to build a utopia. Today, ten astronauts are leaving everything behind to find it. Four are veterans of the twentieth century’s space-race.

And six are teenagers who’ve trained for this mission most of their lives.

It will take the team twenty-three years to reach Terra-Two. Twenty-three years locked in close quarters. Twenty-three years with no one to rely on but each other. Twenty-three years with no rescue possible, should something go wrong.

And something always goes wrong.





Andrew Skinner

Steel Frame
Solaris, August 27 , 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 700 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - August Debuts
Epic tale of giant-robot battles, built around a personal story of redemption and healing.

FLY HARD
Rook is a jockey, a soldier trained and modified to fly ‘shells,’ huge robots that fight for the outer regions of settled space. When her shell is destroyed and her squad killed, Rook is imprisoned, left stranded, scarred and broken. Hollow and helpless without her steel frame, she’s ready to call it quits.

When her cohort of prisoners are sold into indenture to NorCol, a vast frontier corporation, Rook’s given another shell – a near-decrepit Juno, as broken as she is and decades older – and sent to a rusting bucket of a ship on the end of known space to patrol something called “the Eye,” a strange, unnerving permanent storm in space.

Where something is stirring...

Interview with H.G. Parry, author of The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep


Please welcome H. G. Parry to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep was published on July 23, 2019 by Redhook.



Interview with H.G. Parry, author of The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece that you remember writing?

H.G.:  It's a cliche, but I honestly don't remember not writing. I wrote stories all the way through primary school. My first "proper novel" I wrote in Intermediate, when I was twelve: it was about a group of explorers who find the lost city of Atlantis and rescue it from the grip of an immortal despot. It was really a short story, but it did have a talking robot cat, Magic that turned out to be Science, and a healthy paranoia about government, so I call it a win.



TQ:  Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

H.G.:  Hybrid, though I do outline a lot. I start with just writing down fragments, which are nearly always conversations between characters. Then I read back what the characters are saying, and work out the plot from there - it's often a matter of deciding what they want, what they'll do to get it, and what will hurt them the most! I won't usually get the whole plot from that, but I'll get enough to work with, and then when I get stuck I'll go back to what I've written, read over it again, and do a bit more outlining. It's all wildly out of order, of course, just to make things more fun.



TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

H.G.:  On a technical level, it's the opening sentences of books, chapters, and even paragraphs. I always end up plunging right into the middle, leaving some kind of note like "amazing opening goes here!!" Which of course means the last stage of every draft I've ever written is me scrolling through the book writing about fifty "amazing openings" in succession, which takes time, sighs, and multiple slices of cake.

On another level, it's the fact that whatever I try to write always feels just a little bit beyond my skill level at the time. And I don't think there's anything to be done about that except embrace it and keep growing.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

H.G.:  Honestly, just books of every kind, from Keats to Dickens to children's literature to 1960s Dr Strange comics. My academic background is in English Literature, and I love using writing as a way to explore existing stories and history.



TQDescribe The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep using only 5 words.

H.G.:  Reading books saves the world.



TQTell us something about The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep that is not found in the book description.

H.G.:  It's set in Wellington, New Zealand, where I live. I wanted to map the action very specifically on to real places I knew intimately, so that the effect of fictional characters intruding upon reality could be very distinct (if only to me!). I'm also really interested in the way Victorian literature in particular fits into colonised spaces like New Zealand - there's something about the image of Dickens in central Wellington that's more jarring than Dickens in modern London.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep? What appeals to you about writing Contemporary Fantasy?

H.G.:  I wanted to write a book that was a love letter to reading - all kinds of reading, but particularly literary criticism. I'm fascinated with the idea of reading as an act of interpretation - everyone who reads a book has their own version of that book. So I wrote a magic system where readers don't just read characters out of books, but their own versions of characters. The sibling rivalry aspect connected to that, because I wanted to link the way we read books and the way we read people. Just as we interpret books, we're constantly interpreting the people around us, and sometimes we see them the way we need to rather than the way they need to be seen.

As for contemporary fantasy - I love all kinds of fantasy, but there's something very attractive about the idea that magic is lurking just around the corner.



TQWhy did you choose Uriah Heep as your title character?

H.G.:  He actually wasn't the title character until very late in the day, after the book had already sold! But he was in the first chapter from the beginning. Once I'd decided that the book was going to centre largely around Dickens, Uriah Heep was the obvious antagonist - David Copperfield is based heavily on Dickens, so in Uriah Heep you have the nemesis of Dickens himself. He's also just a lot of fun - delightfully repulsive, yet intelligent and complex, and always understanding the parts of the main characters they least want people to see...



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep?

H.G.:  I cheated with this, because I deliberately wrote a book about everything I love and so I knew a lot already. I did go deeper into scholarship about Dickens, and specifically David Copperfield and Uriah Heep, than I've ever gone before, which was a pleasure. I watched a lot of classic novel adaptations to get a sense of different ways the characters can be interpreted, since the premise of the book is that each character is read and interpreted differently by different readers - but honestly I do that anyway. I was also lucky enough to revisit the Charles Dickens Museum in London while I was revising, which worked its way into the texture of the Street. It's an incredible place - like a time capsule in the middle of London.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep.

H.G.:  I love the cover! Lisa Marie Pompilio designed it, and it's bookish and atmospheric and Victorian yet still quirky. It went through a few different versions, and all were amazing, but this one captures the book perfectly. My favourite detail about it is that if you read the text on the page, it's from David Copperfield, and specifically the chapter toward the end of the book where David finds Uriah Heep in prison - as though Uriah Heep has escaped directly from book-prison out into the world. It's so subtle and clever.



TQ:  In The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

H.G.:  Dorian Gray was the easiest, probably, just because he's so much fun. I loved writing Millie too - I grew up reading Enid Blyton's various adventure series, and I loved playing with the trope of the girl detective (and that exaggerated old-fashioned British vernacular!). Nobody was really difficult, but Rob and Charley were complicated for different reasons: Charley because he's seen mostly through other people's eyes, so it was difficult to sift through that and see who he really is inside his own head; Rob because he's so reluctant to get involved with anything outside the norm that he risked missing out on most of the plot!



TQWhich question about The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

H.G.:  That’s a difficult one! Um… Who would you bring out of a book, and why? And the correct answer is Paddington Bear from Michael Bond’s books, because he would be delightful company and eat the marmalade I’ve had in my fridge for years and only get into sweet, well-meaning trouble. But in reality I’d probably accidentally read out Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle or Dracula or Keats or something and chaos would ensue.



TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep.

H.G.:  I think I'm the only one who laughs at my over-the-top descriptions of Dorian Gray, but I still laugh at: "His skin was polished ivory. His cheekbones were sharp enough to pose a flight risk. His eyes defied all metaphor. People who looked into them without fair warning tended only to report, incoherently, that they were blue."

Also, on one of the five Mr Darcys: "The poor thing was the victim of one of many readers convinced Darcy's haughtiness was the product of extreme shyness, and lived much of his life holed up in the study gripped with paranoia that the others were going to organise a dance."



TQWhat's next?

H.G.:  My next book, A DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF MAGICIANS, is coming out next year. It's an alternate history that tells the interconnected story of the French Revolution, the Haitian revolution, and the abolition of the British slave trade, but in a world where magic is strictly confined to the aristocracy. I’m editing that and drafting the sequel now – they’re bigger, darker, more research-heavy books than URIAH HEEP, and I’m both intimidated by them and love them very deeply.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

H.G.:  Thank you so much for having me!





The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep
Redhook, July 23, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 464 pages

Interview with H.G. Parry, author of The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep
The ultimate book-lover’s fantasy, featuring a young scholar with the power to bring literary characters into the world, for fans of The Magicians, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, and The Invisible Library.

For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob — a young lawyer with a normal house, a normal fiancee, and an utterly normal life — hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse, and he will be discharged from his life’s duty of protecting Charley and the real world from each other. But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world… and for once, it isn’t Charley’s doing.

There’s someone else who shares his powers. It’s up to Charley and a reluctant Rob to stop them, before these characters tear apart the fabric of reality.





About H.G. Parry

Interview with H.G. Parry, author of The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep
H.G. Parry lives in a book-infested flat in Wellington, New Zealand, which she shares with her sister and two overactive rabbits. She holds a PhD in English Literature from Victoria University of Wellington, and teaches English, Film, and Media Studies. Her short fiction has appeared in Intergalactic Medicine Show, Daily Science Fiction, and small press anthologies. The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep is her debut novel.







Website  ~ Twitter @hg_parry

Interview with Evan Winter, author of The Rage of Dragons


Please welcome Evan Winter to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Rage of Dragons was published on July 16, 2019 by Orbit.



Interview with Evan Winter, author of The Rage of Dragons




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece that you remember writing?

Evan:  Thanks very much to The Qwillery for having me today, it’s good to be here! And, the first fiction piece I can remember writing was the opening to what I think was a portal Epic Fantasy (hero from our world enters a world of magic). I started it on my parent’s typewriter and got about ten pages in before I ran out of steam.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Evan:  I’m a heavy plotter and can’t really start my draft until I know every character, chapter, and scene that’s going to go into the book. By the end of my plotting process I usually have a 100-page document that I’ve broken down into scenes. My notes for each scene sit to the left of my drafting window so I can follow along when I’m writing.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Evan:  I think it’s writing every day. I know I can go faster than my current pace and I know that I’ll run out of lifetime before I run out of stories. So, I want to write more without rushing the work and I think a good way of achieving that is to write every day. Since high school, I knew I wanted my work to be interwoven with my life because I’ve always felt that life can be broken into three relatively equal pieces - sleep, work, play - and I didn’t want to spend one-third of my time on Earth doing something I didn’t like. To avoid that, I’ve tried very hard to make a living doing things that come from a sense of who I am as a person. It’s rarely been easy and there were many years where I exchanged portions of my life for nothing more than a paycheck but, with writing, I’ve found what I was searching for and don’t want to waste a moment of it.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Evan:  I’m heavily influenced by life in general, my experiences specifically, the news of the day, as well as recent and not so recent history. I have to mention the books I read too, which are primarily SFF novels. They define the parameters of what I understand to be compelling writing. Finally, I write about the things that intrigue me and I aim to ground those things in topics and themes that feel important to me. My ultimate goal, when writing, is to tell a story that, were I to come to it as a reader, I would absolutely love it and think it held truth and value.



TQDescribe The Rage of Dragons using only 5 words.

Evan:  We make our own monsters.



TQTell us something about The Rage of Dragons that is not found in the book description.

Evan:  The Rage of Dragons took about 9 months to outline, draft, edit, and publish.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Rage of Dragons? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Evan:  I wrote The Rage of Dragons because it is exactly and perfectly the type of story I would have been overjoyed to find in a book store. I wrote it because when I was growing up it didn’t exist. I couldn’t have found an Epic Fantasy with swords and sorcery or swords and sandals with a Black protagonist in a place that felt like Africa. I wrote it and I write Fantasy because I believe SFF is one of the greatest places to tell stories that can explore, consider, and evaluate the human condition from enough of a remove to have the inquiry be taken as a genuine attempt to better understand and appreciate one another and our place in the universe. I think the questions we ask in SFF are important and I think the journeys we take in asking those questions are just as important.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Rage of Dragons?

Evan:  I primarily researched African architecture and weapons and went from memory for the landscape, because I wanted to present a vision of an African-esque world that was similar to the way I experienced central Africa as a child. For the story, I actually read through several psychology texts on obsession and peak performance in athletes. It was important for me to have a decent handle on the type of person/people who can outperform even other elites.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Rage of Dragons.

Evan:  The cover’s art is by the incomparable Karla Ortiz (Instagram: @kortizart) and the design is by Orbit’s creative genius, Lauren Panepinto (Twitter: @Planetpinto). The cover was well researched by Ortiz and Panepinto and the shield, the weapons, everything takes some influence from Africa.



TQIn The Rage of Dragons who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Evan:  Tau, the protagonist, was both the easiest and hardest depending on the scene and moment. The Rage of Dragons is seen primarily from his point of view and that means I spend so much time with him that I get a real sense for who he is. It also means that I run into problems when Tau fights back against what the plot is pushing for. I know him well enough to know that I have to go back into my outline and make adjustments when he’s resisting the direction I was initially intending to take. So, the closeness makes him easier to write, but it also means I can’t push him around very much.



TQDoes The Rage of Dragons touch on any social issues?

Evan:  It’s my belief that creative works almost always comment on social issues and the longer the work or the more that is asked of the audience in order to experience the work, the more likely it is that the work touches on social issues. Given that belief, I think that whenever you hear someone say, “I don’t want politics in my Science Fiction or Fantasy,” the feelings underpinning that attitude come from a preference to have their Science Fiction and Fantasy fall in line with their currently held positions in politics and social issues. So, yes, The Rage of Dragons touches on many social issues. Some of them I’m aware of and actively discussing, but there are probably many more that I’m exploring unconsciously.



TQWhich question about The Rage of Dragons do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Evan:  What is one thing that would make you think the book was truly a success?

In my eyes, the book would truly be an undeniable success if it reached and affected people who don’t often see themselves or their cultures centered in their favorite genres. It would be an undeniable success if some of those people were then encouraged to go on and create worlds and stories of their own. I believe we’re all better off if more people get the chance to tell the stories that are in their hearts.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Rage of Dragons.

Evan:

“I’m not asking you to win. That’s not solely in your control,” Aren said. “I’m asking that you fight to win. Anything less is the acceptance of loss and an admission that you deserve it.”

“The wars you’ll wage aren’t decided when you fight them. They’re decided before that by the extent of your efforts and the substance of your sacrifices. They’re decided by the choices you make every single day. So ask yourself: How powerful do I choose to be?”



TQWhat's next?

Evan:  I’m really looking forward to doing a lot more reading. Writing book two and working hard to get it done has meant less time to read and I miss that. So, I can’t wait to get caught up on a lot of the awesome that has come out this year.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Evan:  Thank you very much for having me. It was a pleasure to be here. And, may your next reads be some of your very best ones!





The Rage of Dragons
The Burning 1
Orbit, July 16, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 544 pages

Interview with Evan Winter, author of The Rage of Dragons
Game of Thrones meets Gladiator in this debut epic fantasy about a world caught in an eternal war, and the young man who will become his people’s only hope for survival.

The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable fight for almost two hundred years. Their society has been built around war and only war. The lucky ones are born gifted. One in every two thousand women has the power to call down dragons. One in every hundred men is able to magically transform himself into a bigger, stronger, faster killing machine.

Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war.

Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, but he has a plan of escape. He’s going to get himself injured, get out early, and settle down to marriage, children, and land. Only, he doesn’t get the chance.

Those closest to him are brutally murdered, and his grief swiftly turns to anger. Fixated on revenge, Tau dedicates himself to an unthinkable path. He’ll become the greatest swordsman to ever live, a man willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill the three who betrayed him.

The Rage of Dragons launches a stunning and powerful debut epic fantasy series that readers are already calling “the best fantasy book in years.”


The Burning
The Rage of Dragons





About Evan

Born in England to South American parents, Evan Winter was raised in Africa near the historical territory of his Xhosa ancestors. Evan has always loved fantasy novels, but when his son was born, he realized that there weren’t many epic fantasy novels featuring characters who looked like him. So, before he ran out of time, he started writing them.


Website  ~ Twitter @EvanWinter  ~  Facebook

Interview with Tom Chatfield, author of The Gomorrah Gambit



Please welcome Tom Chatfield to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Gomorrah Gambit is published on July 23, 2019 by Mulholland Books.


Interview with Tom Chatfield, author of The Gomorrah Gambit




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Tom:  I've been writing fiction pretty much since I was old enough to write; when I was about nine or ten years old, I remember writing thinly fictionalised portraits of family life and reading them out loud to my classmates at school, in a style vaguely intended to be comic. I've basically wanted to be a writer since I could string words together.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Tom:  Hybrid, I guess. I know the themes and the broad outline of what I want to write. But then I fly firmly by the seat of my pants, writing and rewriting intensively in an effort to see what my characters want to do, and where they are coming from. Often, they end up doing something much more interesting than anything I could plan in advance.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about fiction writing?

Tom:  I've written half a dozen books of non-fiction, and I love/hate the fact that fiction isn't propped up by the real world in the same way as non-fiction: the story you're creating has to stand up (or flop) on its own terms. Also, with thrillers in particular, if your reader isn't thrilled, you've basically failed - it doesn't matter how clever you think you are.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Tom:  I'm a huge geek around speculative fiction: genre-bending science fiction, fantasy and thrillers that cross over into that world of technology and wild ideas. I love books that transport you, that drag you along while offering you new ways of seeing. Writers like Asmiov and Ursula Le Guin loomed large in my childhood along with, more recently, Naomi Alderman, Nnedi Okorafor, N. K. Jemisin, Ben Aaronovitch, China Miéville, Charles Stross, and many others working somewhere between fantasy and horror and science fiction. There's something amazing about transporting people into other possible worlds; showing them reality slantwise.



TQDescribe The Gomorrah Gambit using only 5 words.

Tom:  Edward Snowden meets Jason Bourne.



TQTell us something about The Gomorrah Gambit that is not found in the book description.

Tom:  Pretty much every single hack and location in the book is either real, or a lightly remixed version of reality. And I have personally owned all the classic computers I mention (and used to practice whistling tones at my friend's dialup modem in the early 1990s)



TQIn addition to your background in digital technology what inspired you to write The Gomorrah Gambit?

Tom:  I'm fascinated by technology, which is why I've written so many books of non-fiction exploring digital culture - but I also love the way that fiction can bring possibilities to life through narrative that you can't handle any other way. The opportunity to reach a new audience, and take them on a journey into the underside of global technology, was irresistible.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Gomorrah Gambit.

Tom:  It was done in-house at Hodder, and it's a very stark depiction of a glistening network in the shape of sharks shining against a black background. I love it. It's an abstract realisation of the themes of the book: the hidden depths, the lurking predators, the fine web of light woven across darkness.



TQIn The Gomorrah Gambit who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Tom:  My lead character has a best friend, Ad, who's an amalgam of several of my friends growing up - and their relationship is directly imported from my own experiences of being a geek mucking around online in the 1990s, playing games, exploring the internet, tasting the excitement of a future that few people seemed to know about. That relationship flowed onto the page, and formed the foundation of the book. Perhaps the hardest character was the female lead, Munira. She's from a very different place and mindset to my protagonists, and she's playing her own double games. She's smart, enigmatic; but I didn't want her to be dull or one-dimensional. It took her a long time to come to life.



TQDoes The Gomorrah Gambit touch on any social issues?

Tom:  I'm deeply interested in disinformation, fake news, democracy, and the impact on society of manipulation in these areas; indeed, I also write textbooks about the kind of critical thinking and research skills needed to see beyond these things. This is a huge area of interest and anxiety for me, and I hope I captured some of its possible impacts on society and politics, without at any point sounding like a textbook...



TQWhich question about The Gomorrah Gambit do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Tom:  Did someone really hack a casino via the sensors in a smart fish tank? Yes, they did. And others have also hacked everything from children's toys and baby monitors to smart fridges, plug sockets and pacemakers. Which is why you really ought to be worrying more about the Internet of Things.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Gomorrah Gambit.

Tom:

"After years of thinking he was the smartest person in the room, it occurs to Azi that he has spent most of his life in rooms containing just one person."

"Azi has a rule of thumb... If someone describes an internet-connected fridge as anything other than a futile blot on the technological landscape, they’re talking out of their arse."



TQWhat's next?

Tom:  I'm writing a sequel that, I hope, takes the characters and events of The Gomorrah Gambit in an interesting and unexpected direction. And, for variety, I have a new textbook coming out in November: a short guide to critical thinking in the 21st century that should be useful for anyone worried about fake news, disinformation and the dismal state of truth online.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Tom:  It was my great pleasure. Thanks for having me.





The Gomorrah Gambit
Mulholland Books, July 23, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 304 Pages
(Fiction Debut)

Interview with Tom Chatfield, author of The Gomorrah Gambit
With dark technology hollowing out global privacy, an elite hacker enters the belly of the beast in this “gripping, intelligent, and stylist” international conspiracy thriller (Sophie Hannah, author of Closed Casket).

Azi Bello is an amiable outsider with a genius for hacking. Having spent the better part of his life holed up in a shed in his backyard, Azi has become increasingly enmeshed in the dark side of the internet. With the divide between online and offline worlds vanishing, so too is the line between those transforming civilization through technology and those trying to bring it to its knees. Dark networks rule. Someone with the right connections can access to anything imaginable, and power is theirs for the taking-although even they can’t know what kind of bargain they’ve struck.

Tipped off by a secretive young woman named Munira, Azi sets out to unravel the mysterious online marketplace known as Gomorrah, sacrificing his carefully constructed privacy in the process. Munira’s life is spiraling out of control: her cousins recruited to work for a terrorist state that’s hunting them both, her destiny in Azi’s hands. Her desperation drags Azi into the field where, working together, the two uncover an unimaginable conspiracy.

As pressure mounts, Azi has no choice but to take on the ultimate infiltration. In an age when identities can be switched at will and nobody is who they seem, how far will he go to end the nightmare?





About Tom

Interview with Tom Chatfield, author of The Gomorrah Gambit
Photo by Tim Bedingfield
Dr Tom Chatfield (@TomChatfield) is a British writer, broadcaster and tech philosopher. He's the author of seven previous books exploring digital culture—most recently Live This Book! (Penguin) and Critical Thinking (SAGE Publishing), researched as a Visiting Associate at the Oxford Internet Institute—published in over two dozen languages. His debut novel, The Gomorrah Gambit (Mulholland), is a darkly satirical thriller set in the world of the dark net. When not working, he plays jazz piano and drinks too much coffee.

Website

Interview with Suyi Davies Okungbowa, author of David Mogo, Godhunter


Please welcome Suyi Davies Okungbowa to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. David Mogo, Godhunter was published on July 9, 2019 by Abaddon.



Interview with Suyi Davies Okungbowa, author of David Mogo, Godhunter





TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece that you remember writing?

SDO:  Thanks! I think the first thing I remember writing was a retelling of some stories from the Christian Bible. I found some of them quite interesting, and wondered what it would be like to be a fly on the wall. So I rewrote a lot of the popular stories from the point-of-view of lesser characters: the owner of the donkey Jesus rode into Jerusalem on, the guy who owned the room where the last supper was held, etc. It was fun while it lasted, which wasn't very long.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

SDO:  Hybrid, or plantser. I tend to plot the big "waypoints" of a narrative and then write my way between waypoints. This gives me a loose structure to work with, but also the freedom to surprise myself.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

SDO:  Finishing things, which I believe is a problem for many other writers too. There are always so many ideas to explore, so many directions to go in, so many things to say. Finishing something I'm working on is something learning to do now--it used to be so bad that I'd have lots of uncompleted drafts and not one complete story. But only writers who finish get published, so I'd say things are looking up now.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

SDO:  My history, for one. Both that of the people from which I'm descended, as well as my experience as an African caught between the demands of tradition and modernity, of history and the future. Writing about existing in the middle is important to me--most of my characters are always caught between things. I'm also fascinated by What If questions within the context of the African continent.



TQDescribe David Mogo, Godhunter using only 5 words.

SDO:  Demigod sparks war in Lagos.



TQTell us something about David Mogo, Godhunter that is not found in the book description.

SDO:  There is a scene where characters watch an El Clasico football match between Barcelona and Real Madrid. It makes little sense that one would tell a whole tale about Nigerians and not feature football. It's almost impossible.



TQWhat inspired you to write David Mogo, Godhunter? What appeals to you about writing Urban Fantasy?

SDO:  I never quite thought about writing Urban Fantasy when I wrote DMG. I only wanted to tell a story about someone caught between two parts of themselves, and that character, David Mogo, was born. I also wanted to explore at least one of Nigeria's many myths, legends and cosmologies, and being set in Lagos, the story yielded itself best to the Yoruba of the Nigerian west. However, yes I do write more contemporary fantasy than anything else, and the main reason is that I like to explore how the otherworldly interacts with the...worldly, and how people change and adapt in order for them to coexist.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for David Mogo, Godhunter?

SDO:  Since I'm Nigerian, and grew up within proximity to the Yoruba-dominated west of Nigeria, I already knew about some of these deities, pantheons and myths. My own ethnic group also shares some history with the Yoruba. So, basically, it all started with first-hand experience. Then, I asked questions: talked to a few people who were well versed in Yoruba and Nigerian history. I left library and online research for last because, as I've learned over time, these are usually in danger of containing diluted versions, especially when written from a Western perspective. I was picky, but I sifted enough to find what I wanted.



TQ Please tell us about the cover for David Mogo, Godhunter. Does it depict something from the novel?

SDO:  The cover artist is Yoshi Yoshitani, and they're amazing! I think Yoshi just went with interpreting the vibes they got from the parts of the novel they read, and I'd say it captures the gritty nature of the tale itself. The meteor-like things falling from the sun likely represent The Falling, the event that brings the gods to Lagos in the first place--but you already knew that.



TQIn David Mogo, Godhunter, who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

SDO:  The easiest was probably Eshu. In large parts of Yorubaland, Eshu is placed at par with the devil, which is clearly wrong. Eshu is closer to a trickster deity, like Loki or Puck, and subverting the common narrative to reflect this was easy. The most difficult was probably the god Ogun, who I changed up in so many ways that the character could've easily become unidentifiable. I had to ensure I kept the balance between what people expect from the god Ogun, and what role I wanted the character to perform in the book.



TQDoes David Mogo, Godhunter touch on any social issues?

SDO:  Migration was a big one for me: the mass arrival of the gods was to mimic the immigration into Lagos that has left the city overpopulated (probably the most populous in the world after 2050). Then, there's gentrification and political elitism, issues plaguing the city today, where the poor and severely affected are left to fend for themselves while choice spaces are reserved for the more affluent, something which also happens in its own way in the book. And lastly, colonization, with a faction of the gods trying to decide between integrating or conquering the "lesser beings" they have encountered.



TQWhich question about David Mogo, Godhunter do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

SDO:  No one ever asks about the fictional Lagos State Paranormal Commission (LASPAC) which, if you know Lagos and its penchant for coming up with new government agencies every now and then, would feel right in place. (Heck, they might even have one right now!) In the book, they're tasked with dealing with the city's deity infestation, which they do a shitty job of, because that's the most Lagos way of things. I reckon it'll take an interviewer who's also a Lagosian to ask about the LASPAC, though.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from David Mogo, Godhunter.

SDO:  Hmm. I'd say the first is: "The thought makes me shiver, and when a demigod shivers, you know what that means." The second will be: "He is perfect in every way, except for one tiny thing: he looks exactly like a mirage, like a mirror reflection without a subject. He is either an old man or a young boy, or both at the same time; it feels almost as if his identity is a choose-your-own-adventure game, where you decide what you're seeing."



TQWhat's next?

SDO:  Well, my agent and I are working hard on my next thing, which at this point, I can only reveal is fantasy as well (but not urban fantasy) and also inspired by West Africa (but a different time). We're looking at possibly more than one book, but nothing is set in stone yet. You'll hear more as the days go by!



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

SDO:  Thank you. Always a pleasure.






David Mogo, Godhunter
Abaddon, July 9, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 360 pages

Interview with Suyi Davies Okungbowa, author of David Mogo, Godhunter
LAGOS WILL NOT BE DESTROYED

The gods have fallen to earth in their thousands, and chaos reigns.

Though broken and leaderless, the city endures.

David Mogo, demigod and godhunter, has one task: capture two of the most powerful gods in the city and deliver them to the wizard gangster
Lukmon Ajala.

No problem, right?





About Suyi Davies Okungbowa

Interview with Suyi Davies Okungbowa, author of David Mogo, Godhunter
Suyi Davies Okungbowa is a Nigerian author of stories featuring African gods, starships, monsters, detectives and everything in-between. His godpunk novel, David Mogo, Godhunter, is out from Abaddon in July 2019. His internationally published fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Lightspeed, Fireside, Podcastle, The Dark, Mothership Zeta, Omenana, Ozy, Brick Moon Fiction and other periodicals and anthologies. He is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Arizona, where he teaches writing, and has worked in editorial at Podcastle and Sonora Review. He tweets at @IAmSuyiDavies and is @suyidavies everywhere else. Learn more at suyidavies.com.





Interview with Kerstin Hall, author of The Border Keeper


Please welcome Kerstin Hall to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Border Keeper is published on July 16, 2019 by Tor.com.



Interview with Kerstin Hall, author of The Border Keeper




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Kerstin:  In second grade, the teacher told us to write an original short story. I wanted to play outside instead. So I plagiarised Swan Lake, but ended it with everyone dying at the end of the first act. Miss Woods noticed and asked whether that was really how the story concluded.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Kerstin:  I think I aspire to be planner. I always start projects with the best of intentions — namely that I will create a neat outline, follow it, and reach my destination in an orderly fashion. In practise, I tend to get bored and jump into the writing too early. I guess that makes me a hybrid.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Kerstin:  I’m a perfectionist, so I struggle not to go back and endlessly revise the same sentences over and over. I also find killing major characters very difficult; I get far too emotionally invested in them. Oh, and structural revisions. Do not like those at all.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Kerstin:  A large influence on my writing has been working for Beneath Ceaseless Skies magazine. The editorial tastes of the publication have rubbed off on me, especially with regards to worldbuilding. In terms of specific writers, I greatly admire Ann Leckie and China Miéville. And I’m significantly influenced by my environment, although I wouldn’t say my work is recognisably South African.



TQDescribe The Border Keeper using only 5 words.

Kerstin:  Man inadvisably manipulates grumpy psychopomp.



TQTell us something about The Border Keeper that is not found in the book description.

Kerstin:  I think the book might be funnier than the blurb implies. There’s also a very slow-burn romance. And dangerous fish.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Border Keeper? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Kerstin:  A lot of the scenery of The Border Keeper is abstracted from places in southern Namibia. The desert and Eris’ house bear resemblance to the abandoned stations along the railway line between Aus and Lüderitz. There’s a creepy cottage that draws on the buildings in the ghost town of Kolmanskop. And the shadowline -- or border between worlds -- might owe a certain degree of unconscious credit to the Sperrgebiet. The Sperrgebiet is a vast swath of the Namibian desert owned by diamond mining companies. It’s inaccessible to ordinary people, and to enter the region requires a permit and a guide.

I love writing fantasy because I get to set all the rules, which is very convenient. I also love that I can create completely outlandish settings and characters, and readers usually just nod along. Faceless monsters playing violins? Cool. Holes in the ocean? Carry on. Evil demon cats? Maybe not even that implausible. The playfulness inherent to the genre appeals to me.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Border Keeper?

Kerstin:  This is an interesting question for me, because the honest answer is: ‘not much’. There’s the obvious small detail stuff —what trees could grow in this climate, crab anatomy, first aid 101 — but I was very deliberate and careful in not drawing heavily on existing mythologies or cultures in shaping the broader world of the narrative.

The reasons for this are quite personal, and I won’t go into too much detail. In brief, The Border Keeper was submitted during Tor.com Publishing’s open window for non-European fantasy, and I wasn’t sure the degree to which my authorial standpoint ‘counted’ as non-European. With that in mind, I felt that the most ethical thing to do would be to try and generate a narrative world that stood mostly separate from existing belief systems and communities. Basically, to invent everything I could.

Tor.com Publishing apparently liked it, but my grand effort was rendered a little redundant when I realised that I had accidentally named my female protagonist after a Greek goddess. I only realised the mistake six months after I’d submitted it!



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Border Keeper.

Kerstin:  The cover is the work of Kathleen Jennings (illustration) and Christine Foltzer (design). It’s actually very intricate cut-paper silhouettes, not digitally rendered art! Jennings hid a lot of lovely little story references in the trees; so you can see a compass, a teapot, an egret, a crab, etc. The split figure is Eris, as she passes between realms.



TQIn The Border Keeper who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Kerstin:  Both Vasethe and Eris were easy to write, especially when they were interacting with one another. A lot of tension existed between them, which lent those scenes a fun dynamic.
The hardest character to write was probably the antagonist. I have a terrible tendency to write full-blown cackling evil villains at any given opportunity, and my editor had to gently rein that in.



TQDoes The Border Keeper touch on any social issues?

Kerstin:  Yes, although I tried to approach the topics obliquely. It explores the tensions between violence, forgiveness and justice, and the way I wrote my characters was with the intention of subverting a particular gendered trope — I can’t say which one without spoilers though.



TQWhich question about The Border Keeper do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Kerstin:  This is quite specific, but: “What happened to Yett’s realm after his murder?”

Answer: Eris should have inherited it, but she couldn’t bring herself to claim it. She has, however, cared for it ever since his death and serves as its de facto ruler.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Border Keeper.

Kerstin:  Here’s one from quite early in the story:

“Here.” Eris tossed Vasethe a black bundle of velvet. He caught it.

“A blindfold?”

“You are familiar with them?” She raised an eyebrow.

He chose not to reply, running a finger along the edge of the musty ribbon.


And here’s another from the middle:

         Vasethe rowed evenly. The water scattered light as he cut through the surface, and shoals of pale blue fish swam in their wake. A flock of waterfowl watched them from the shallows before melting into the reeds, and a lone kite hovered far above, her wingtips fluttering in the cool breeze.



TQWhat’s next?

Kerstin:  I can’t be too specific, but there should be announcements soon. I’m very excited about a certain project I just handed in, and I’m furiously revising another for a deadline in November.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Kerstin:  Thanks for having me!





The Border Keeper
Tor.com, July 16, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 240 pages

Interview with Kerstin Hall, author of The Border Keeper
"Beautifully and vividly imagined. Eerie, lovely, and surreal"—Ann Leckie

She lived where the railway tracks met the saltpan, on the Ahri side of the shadowline. In the old days, when people still talked about her, she was known as the end-of-the-line woman.

In The Border Keeper, debut author Kerstin Hall unfolds a lyrical underworld narrative about loss and renewal.

Vasethe, a man with a troubled past, comes to seek a favor from a woman who is not what she seems, and must enter the nine hundred and ninety-nine realms of Mkalis, the world of spirits, where gods and demons wage endless war.

The Border Keeper spins wonders both epic—the Byzantine bureaucracy of hundreds of demon realms, impossible oceans, hidden fortresses—and devastatingly personal—a spear flung straight, the profound terror and power of motherhood. What Vasethe discovers in Mkalis threatens to bring his own secrets into light and throw both worlds into chaos.





About Kerstin

Interview with Kerstin Hall, author of The Border Keeper
Photo by Sylvia Hall
KERSTIN HALL is a writer and editor based in Cape Town, South Africa. She completed her undergraduate studies in journalism at Rhodes University and, as a Mandela Rhodes Scholar, continued with a Masters degree at the University of Cape Town. Her short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, and she is a first reader for Beneath Ceaseless Skies. She also enjoys photography and is inspired by the landscapes of South Africa and Namibia.







Website  ~  Twitter @kerstin__hall

2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July Debuts


2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July Debuts


Each month you will be able to vote for your favorite cover from that month's debut novels. At the end of the year the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2019 Debut Novel Cover of the Year. Please note that a debut novel cover is eligible in the month in which the novel is published in the US. Cover artist/illustrator/designer information is provided when we have it.

I'm using PollCode for this vote. After you the check the circle next to your favorite, click "Vote" to record your vote. If you'd like to see the real-time results click "View". This will take you to the PollCode site where you may see the results. If you want to come back to The Qwillery click "Back" and you will return to this page. Voting will end sometime on August 10, 2019, unless the vote is extended. If the vote is extended the ending date will be updated.

Vote for your favorite July 2019 Debut Cover!
 
pollcode.com free polls




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July Debuts
Illustration by Kathleen Jennings
Cover design by Christine Foltzer





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July Debuts
Cover art by Yoshi Yoshitani





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July Debuts





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July Debuts





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July Debuts
Cover design by Lauren Panepinto
Cover illustration by Karla Ortiz





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July Debuts
Cover design by Adam Auerbach
Cover photo of stars courtesy of Shutterstock





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July Debuts





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July Debuts
Cover art by Mikio Murakami





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July Debuts
Cover design by Lisa Marie Pompilio
Cover illustrations by Shutterstock
Interview with Keren Landsman, author of The Heart of the CircleInterview with Eugen Bacon, author of Claiming T-MoInterview with Kira Jane Buxton, author of Hollow Kingdom2019 Debut Author Challenge - August DebutsInterview with H.G. Parry, author of The Unlikely Escape of Uriah HeepInterview with Evan Winter, author of The Rage of DragonsInterview with Tom Chatfield, author of The Gomorrah GambitInterview with Suyi Davies Okungbowa, author of David Mogo, GodhunterInterview with Kerstin Hall, author of The Border Keeper2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July Debuts

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